Nolo Contendere or No Contest Pleas in Georgia

  •   None
no contest nolo contendere

A plea of nolo contendere doesn’t mean that the Defendant has chosen to plea innocent or guilty, but simply means that they don’t want to contest the allegations against them.  A nolo contender plea is a way to sidestep an official admission of guilt and just accept the punishment given.  While a nolo contendere plea leads to a conviction, it is a special conviction that can save you some of your civil rights and mitigate repercussions of certain traffic offenses.


Nolo contendere pleas can be a big asset if you are being sued on top of being arrested. For example, if a Defendant is accused of battery against their neighbor, the neighbor could bring a lawsuit against the Defendant on top of the criminal case.  If the Defendant loses their criminal case they lose some of their liberty, whereas if the Defendant loses the civil suit they will likely have to pay the neighbor a monetary sum or some other form of damages.  If the Defendant is convicted in the criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt, this would become a powerful tool for the neighbor to then use in their civil suit.  If the Defendant plead nolo contendere, however, the jury is prohibited from knowing about it.  Because the Defendant did not admit guilt, but merely didn’t contest it, it cannot ever be used in any other case as an admission of guilt.


Mitigating traffic offenses and protecting your driver’s license are the main benefits of a plea of nolo contendere, although there are limits to how many times you can use this type of plea to your benefit.  It is important to know that you can ask to withdraw your plea of nolo contendere at any time before sentencing if you feel that it is better to save it for a later use, however it is at the judge’s discretion as to whether they will permit you to withdraw it.

Various traffic offenses result in harsher penalties upon multiple convictions, and using a nolo contendere plea will basically give you a free pass against your first offense accumulating.  For example, under O.C.G.A. § 40-5-121, one nolo contendere plea will be accepted to a charge of driving without being licensed or with a suspended or disqualified license within a five-year period as measured from date of arrest to date of arrest.

Similarly, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-15 allows one nolo contendere   plea to a charge of driving a motor vehicle with a suspended, canceled, or revoked vehicle registration within a five-year period.

A plea of nolo contendere can also keep “points” from accumulating on your drivers record for minor offenses.  Per O.C.G.A. § 40-5-57, points can accumulate as follows:

Aggressive driving6 points
 Reckless driving4 points
Unlawful passing of a school bus6 points
Improper passing on a hill or a curve4 points
Exceeding the speed limit by more than 14 miles per hour but less than 19 miles per hour2 points
Exceeding the speed limit by 19 miles per hour or more but less than 24 miles per hour3 points
 Exceeding the speed limit by 24 miles per hour or more but less than 34 miles per hour4 points
Exceeding the speed limit by 34 miles per hour or more6 points
Disobedience of any traffic-control device or traffic officer3 points
Too fast for conditions0 points
Failure to adequately secure a load, except fresh farm produce, resulting in loss of such load onto the roadway which results in an accident2 points
Violation of child safety restraint requirements, first offense1 point
 Violation of child safety restraint requirements, second or subsequent offense2 points
First violation of Code Section 40-6-2411 point
Second violation of Code Section 40-6-2412 points
Third or subsequent violation of Code Section 40-6-2413 points
All other moving traffic violations which are not speed limit violations3 point

An accumulation of 15+ points over any 2-year period results in a suspension of your license.  While a second plea of nolo contendere  for any of the above infractions within a 5-year period will be treated as a conviction and add points to your record, you get one “free pass” to use a Nolo contendere  in any 5-year period.


If you have been charged with a crime and need the best local criminal defense attorney, give @bixonlaw a call today to speak to one of our experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyers. We will vigorously defend your criminal defense rights, and advocate on your behalf to have your criminal case dismissed or your charges reduced. As experienced trial attorneys, we are not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. We are lawyers who are committed to helping people in difficult situations, and we invite you to call us at (404) 551-5684 for a free consultation on your case today.